Licensing the symbol set

Posted 20 May 2020 by JC

Let me be clear right up front: I love stitch maps. I love how drawing a chart without a grid can bring clarity to many stitch patterns. Having one symbol per stitch, letting each symbol point to those of the row below into which it’s worked... well, for me, it’s magic.

That said, I know a lot of people are still fond of grid-based charts. And drawing them is a lot easier if you have access to a good tools. Stitchmastery is an excellent choice that comes with many symbols. But if you want total flexibility? You want to use a general-purpose vector drawing tool, like Illustrator or Inkscape.

And this is where we roll back around to stitch maps. If you’re going to draw charts with a general-purpose tool, you need to get your hands on a symbol set. You can draw your own, of course – or, as of today, you can license the symbols used here at

The deal is this: when you license the symbol set, you get nearly 300 clear, consistent symbols in the form of PDF and SVG vector data files. Each symbol is a named “group,” and each group includes an invisible rectangle. These rectangles are crucial, as they let you easily snap symbols to a grid. Consider, for example, this chart for Gathered Daisies:

gathered daisies sample chart

I drew it in Illustrator, using symbols from the symbol set. Using Illustrator meant I could define the grid as I wanted, number the rows as I wanted, and add color as I wanted. Using the symbols meant I didn’t have to draw symbols from scratch.

The symbols are all drawn at a scale of eight grid squares to the inch – but since we’re talking about vector drawing tools, you could of course scale the symbols larger or smaller as you wished, while keeping perfect clarity. And from Illustrator or Inkscape you could save your finished charts in any format you like.

So, are you intrigued? If you’d like to know more about using the symbol set, email me. I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have!

Searching by knitspeak snippets

Posted 30 Apr 2020 by JC

Now this is a fun one! Today’s new feature is the ability search by little snippets of knitspeak, like “k1 tbl” or “[yo, k1] 5 times.”

Give it a try: go to the Browse page, or to the detail page for any collection, and find the “Knitspeak snippets” section in the “Search options” box.

screenshot: empty input box

Enter any bit of knitspeak, and you’ll see all the stitch patterns whose written instructions include that bit of knitspeak.

screenshot: k1 tbl

Along with those search results, you’ll also see another empty input box. Enter another snippet into that box, and you’ll see all patterns that contain both snippets – for example, both “k1 tbl” and “RT.”

screenshot: k1 tbl AND RT

What if you want to find all the patterns whose written instructions contain either “w&t” or “turn”? Easy: in a single box, enter “w&t | turn.” The vertical bar (found on most keyboards above the “\” character) means “or,” and you can have as many of them as you like in one input box.

screenshot: w&t | turn

This allows all sorts of trickery – for example, all patterns that make use of twisted stitches and short rows:

screenshot: k1 tbl | p1 tbl AND w&t | turn

But wait, there’s more! Start a snippet with “^” (the character above “6” on most keyboards) and that snippet will be excluded from the search results. So this will search for patterns that are not worked in the round:

screenshot: ^Round

This will search for patterns that feature yarn overs, but not the most common single decreases:

screenshot: yo AND ^ k2tog | ssk | p2tog

Of course you can combine any of these “Knitspeak snippets” search options with other search options. Here’s a way to find patterns that use “brSl” symbols but haven’t been tagged as “brioche”:

screenshot: with brSl but not tagged as brioche

Or patterns named “Feather and fan” that don’t have yarn overs:

screenshot: named Feather and Fan without yo


All the comparisons are case-insensitive, so “sl1” will match “sl1” or “Sl1.” But other than being case-insensitive, the comparisons are very literal.

  • “Row 1” (without an “s”) will not match “Rows 1 and 2.”
  • “k2 , p1” (with an extra space before the comma) will not match “k2, p1.”
  • “LT” will match “1/1 LT” and “multiple of 5 sts” (because of the “lt” in “multiple”).

Why are the comparisons so literal? Because they’re done on the actual knitspeak for each stitch pattern, exactly as it’s shown on the pattern’s detail page and – more to the point – as it’s stored in the site’s database. Doing comparisons on the knitspeak stored in the database is what makes the searches so fast and so powerful.

Speak up!

As always, I’ve tested on a number of browsers, with Javascript both enabled and disabled... but who knows what I missed? Who knows how your browser might behave differently? If you notice any weirdness, please let me know! Or if you have ideas for making this feature better, please join the conversation on Ravelry.

Searching by row repeat

Posted 28 Apr 2020 by JC

Need to find a stitch pattern with a specific row repeat? You can do that now, in the “Search options” box on the Browse page.

screenshot of row repeat input box

For example, entering “8” reveals that, of the 6947 patterns currently on the site, 813 repeat every 8 rows. This could be handy if you’re trying to find a stitch pattern that’ll coordinate well with one you’re already planning to use.

Bonus: if a stitch pattern repeats vertically, its detail page now shows its row repeat as a link in the “Details” box – for example, for Primrose Edging:

screenshot of details box

You can click that link to find stitch patterns with a matching row repeat.

Cable crosses with slip stitches

Posted 24 Apr 2020 by JC

By request, now has symbols for a few cable crosses that feature slip stitches:

  • 1/1 LSC1/1 LSC
  • 1/1 LSAC1/1 LSAC
  • 1/2 LSC1/2 LSC
  • 1/3 LSC1/3 LSC
  • 1/1 RSC1/1 RSC
  • 1/1 RSAC1/1 RSAC
  • 1/2 RSC1/2 RSC
  • 1/3 RSC1/3 RSC

In the LSC and RSC crosses, a single slipped stitch crosses over 1, 2, or 3 knit stitches. In the LSAC and RSAC crosses, all the stitches of the cross are slipped. To figure out what an abbreviation means, keep in mind that...

  • “LSC” stands for “left slipped cross”
  • “RSAC” stands for “right slip all (stitches) cross”
  • “1/2” means “one over two”
  • etc., as previously outlined in this Ravelry post

Or – better yet – just refer to the key when following a stitch map, or to the convenience buttons when creating a stitch map.

Crosses like these aren’t common, but they can be used for interesting effects:

Subtle crosses


Renumber and reformat

Posted 4 Mar 2020 by JC

By request, the Contribute and Edit pages now have a “Renumber and reformat” option, above the “Written instructions” text entry box:

Renumber and reformat button

Click that button, and up pops a dialog:

Renumber and reformat dialog

With this dialog, you can renumber the rows in your knitspeak – for example:

  • To make room for 10 more rows at the beginning of your pattern, set “Start” to 11 and “Increment” to 1. Your existing rows will get renumbered as 11, 12, 13, 14, etc. Add in new rows numbered 1 through 10.

  • To make room for an unknown number of rows at the beginning, set “Start” to 100 (or some such) and “Increment” to 1. Your existing rows will get renumbered as 100, 101, 102, 103, etc. Add in as many new rows as you need. Then renumber again, with a “Start” of 1 and an “Increment” of 1, to get “normal” row numbering again.

  • To make room for rows in the middle of your pattern, set “Start” to 1 and “Increment” to 10 (or some such). Your existing rows will get renumbered as 1, 11, 21, 31, etc. Add in the rows that you need. Then renumber again, with a “Start” of 1 and an “Increment” of 1.

Each time you use this dialog, your knitspeak will get reformatted. Here you have two choices:

  • “Condensed” means that identical rows will be displayed in a group – for example,

    Rounds 2, 4, 6, and 8: Purl.
  • “Expanded” means that identical rows will be displayed individually – for example,

    Round 2: Purl.
    Round 4: Purl.
    Round 6: Purl.
    Round 8: Purl.

Note that you can also reformat without renumbering, if you so choose. Just uncheck “Renumber” before selecting “Go!” This can be a handy way of expanding your knitspeak before editing it.


  • You can only renumber and reformat knitspeak that the site can understand. But the knitspeak doesn’t have to be knitable. So row 1: k37; row 2: p27 can be renumbered, even if it can’t be knit.

  • All the usual knitspeak rules still apply. Specifically, you can’t have negative row numbers.

  • The renumber function does not save anything, just like the “Check the knitspeak” button doesn’t save anything. To save your work (and draw a stitch map), you have to press the “Go for it!” button, as usual.

  • You can specify a negative “Increment”... but you probably wouldn’t want to. Setting “Start” to 10 and “Increment” to -1 would renumber your existing rows as 10, 9, 8, 7, etc., effectively reversing your stitch pattern, which rarely produces meaningful results. But, hey, you’re welcome to try, and see what silliness results.

Questions? Comments? You know where to find me.

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